Off hours: Citrix regional VP holds family close

Johnny Karam is the area vice president, Middle East and Africa, for Citrix, a software company that provides mobile workplace solutions. Mr Karam, 40, who is from Lebanon, has lived in the UAE for 14 years. Based in Dubai, he has previously held leading positions at Symantec as well as key leadership positions at NavLink and Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie. He has been married for 14 years and has three children, two daughters ages 12 and five and a son, eight.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

I have a very busy social life and enjoy interacting with people as there’s a lot to learn from interacting with a broad cross-section of society. I enjoy taking my family out on the weekends to ensure I am a vital part of my children’s lives. The latest generation of children are growing up so fast compared to when I look back to our generation. It is important that I am there to answer questions and teach them how to become great citizens of the world.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

I have a great passion for skiing, so on an annual basis I take ski trips to indulge in this great outdoor sport. Zermatt in Switzerland is my favourite because of the quality of snow, iconic Matterhorn peak, long runs of hundreds of kilometres, amazing scenery and excellent food.

What can’t you live without?

My family are very important to me and I cannot see myself living without them.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

Perseverance and knowing when to ask for help and advice is key to where I am now. Without the help of the people around me, I would not be where I am currently.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

Early in my career, my manager, an inspirational person, told me there are two types of managers: the type that surround themselves with average people and the type that surround themselves with people that are better than them. He went on to conclude that leaders who surround themselves with smart people always end up winning big. I’ve taken this advice to heart and have always reaped the benefits of this behaviour. Surround yourself with great people. They will push you to be the best you can be. Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to meet and learn from a number of very wise people, but this one piece of advice has proven to be invaluable over the course of my career.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

The job requires long hours, full commitment and a lot of travel. So we always plan a short holiday every couple of months as a family, which gives us something to look forward to and keep us going. Every Saturday I completely disconnect from work to ensure family time is uninterrupted.

How do you relax after the working day?

I enjoy running in the evening as it helps me relax after work and is also a key part of my daily routine. I recently started practising yoga, which has a number of health benefits. On a physical level, yoga improves flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. Psychologically, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness by allowing one to shift their awareness to sensations, thoughts and emotions. I got into yoga to balance the body and mind. In addition, I was positively surprised by the level of fitness you can gain from intense sessions of Bikram Yoga.

If you weren’t in this job what else would you be doing?

The world of finance is large and fascinating, but one area of interest is around public companies and their finances and how to translate this understanding into a sound and value-investing strategy. However, on retirement I would like to be active with charities that are focused on helping children. Education is the solution to all problems. Therefore, putting an effort on children’s causes to close the education divide is something very dear to my heart.


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